Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Powerful Pages - Mr. Majestyk by Elmore Leonard (1974)

Powerful Pages - Mr. Majestyk by Elmore Leonard (1974)

Man, I miss Elmore.  He had such a gift for telling gripping stories populated with vivid characters.  He did so by painting incredible pictures with as few brush strokes as possible.  Mr. Majestyk is a perfect example of his style, lean but provocative, fast-paced but detailed, a dramatic confrontation that is never dull and consistently defies expectations.  Majestyk himself is an ideal hero in the Leonard mold, a stoic type with a willingness to strike hard when given no alternative, as well as a deliberate man with a code he will not violate.  Frank Renda, the villain, is another classic Leonard creation, a nuanced tough guy who is both deeply flawed and wildly dangerous.  Majestyk is a melon farmer while Renda is a contract killer, and their little war is as entertaining as it is unlikely.  As with any of the author's works, the dialogue sizzles, and every word brings us closer to a reckoning.  While my efforts here may lead the uninitiated to imagine a cartoonish machismo extravaganza masquerading as a novel, that would be grossly inaccurate.  Yes, Elmore liked to spin yarns about tough guys caught up in even tougher situations, and he had a real knack for one-liners and unexpected laughs.  He also had an unbelievable feel for his medium coupled with a pretty sound grasp of human nature, thus his writing is also insightful and moving.  Don't confuse brief with shallow, and please understand that guns-blazing action and potent drama can occupy the same space.  And if you don't believe me, hell, go ahead and ask Mr. Majestyk.  It is a quick and enjoyable read, and I think it was one of Leonard's best.

Final Grade: A

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